3 PR Tips From Facebook’s Tech Communications Leader

Facebook's Jonny Thaw at the PRSA
International Conference in San Francisco.

Jonny Thaw has been on both sides of the communications fence. In a former life, Thaw was a well-respected tech reporter for publications like Business 2.0, Red Herring and later Bloomberg News before he moved over to the messaging side as manager of corporate communications at Facebook two years ago. He now is manager of technology and engineering communications at Facebook.

Thaw admits it’s never a dull moment at the now public company. “There have been many ups and downs,” he told a packed room of PRSA International Conference attendees in San Francisco on Oct. 15. But you can tell from his enthusiasm for the Facebook brand that he wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are some quick “PR tips from tech” from Thaw:

Tip 1: Take the time to segment your audiences. “There was a time when we just had one Facebook page, with every announcement up there,” says Thaw. “We realized that we weren't serving each audience particularly well.

Tip 2: Don’t ignore traditional PR methods: While Facebook uses social media for much of its engagement and messaging, Thaw strongly believes in pitching stories to publications like The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and The Wall Street Journal. “Those pitches are time-consuming—they take hours of prep work—but the results really can’t be duplicated online,” says Thaw.

Tip 3: Communicate from within: Facebook has a page with 700,000+ fans on which it encourages its engineers to post. At the same time, says Thaw, they’re pitching story ideas from those posts to the media. “Recruitment of engineers in the Valley is cutthroat, and this page really helps," says Thaw.

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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